My father, Vincenzo (James) Vecchio was born in a little town called Capaccio (near Salerno and Naples) in Italy, on November 27, 1869. He came to America in April 1882, when he was almost 13 years old.
I do not know anything about his parents, or who accompanied him at the time of his emigration, but I recall that he had a brother Henry (Enrico), a brother Diamond, and I believe a sister as well (name unknown).
In the family book of records that my father meticulously compiled, he mentions a Donato Vecchio, on whose identity I am unable to shed any light. In speaking of this book of the Vecchio family records, it is amazing to observe the concise order and the neatness of my father’s penmanship. He had a very strong determination and concern to keep an accurate account of our family records. He felt that this was vital and necessary to each of us, such as the details of our birth, including time, location, godparents, etc. The original book containing these records is in Johnny Mike (Vecchio)’s possession. Copies of the information involved can be found in a large white Bible, which I generally keep on the nightstand next to my bed.
Keeping in mind that my father lived in this country for almost nine years before marrying my mother, he lost no time to learn our English language and became fluent in mastering it. He was determined to learn the new and exciting ways and customs of this new country, America. He no doubt had natural talents and good aptitudes, in addition to the primary background of education, which he acquired in Italy before coming to America.
As soon as the proper time had arrived, my father applied and successfully became an American citizen. In marrying my mother later on, she automatically, by law, became a citizen of the United States as well.
It is the vast combination of the many diverse and ethnic people who have migrated to this great country that has helped it to grow and to prosper. And there is no doubt that our country has always afforded many opportunities and freedoms for each of us to enjoy to the fullest. As a result, there is a healthy balance of achievement and progress that continues on a daily basis, in answer to our growing demands. Our country has developed and grown to its present standard of greatness through the foresight and leadership of our founding fathers, by our sound government and its leaders, and by the contributions and allegiance of its American citizens.
To add a little information concerning my father, I would describe him as a quiet man. He was regarded by all of us in our family as a loving, generous, gentle, and protective father. Our security, care, and daily needs were always his first and foremost priorities. As an example, each evening at dusk, I can remember him going from room to room, lowering the shades on all the windows, making sure no passersby would have the opportunity to look in on his family. He did not want his family’s security or privacy jeopardized in any way.
He was meticulous in his dress, as well as carrying out any of his responsibilities at home or at work. He was not the outgoing person (as my mother always was), but he was always careful to exercise caution, courtesy, and respect in all of his social contacts and relationships.
You will find a more detailed account of my father’s characteristics of personality and some background of him discussed more fully in the chapter entitled “Very Early Years in New York City“.